Dr Ranee Thakar
President, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
A national women’s health hub model offers a wealth of opportunities, promising to improve the health and wellbeing of women and girls.
This year, the Government announced funding for the national rollout of the Women’s Health Hub model in England. These community hubs present an opportunity to better meet the needs of women throughout their lives.
Services addressing women’s health needs
Women could benefit from more holistic, joined-up and locally-based services. The hubs bring together a wide range of care delivered by healthcare professionals with expertise in areas of women’s health.
Gynaecology, sexual and reproductive health services could be integrated into this hub model, including contraception, cancer screening and support with menstrual problems and pelvic pain. By doing so, the hubs could improve women’s access, experience and outcomes across their healthcare needs.
Prevention and earlier diagnosis of common conditions
The hub model will improve access to information about women’s health conditions and provide timely support where needed. Our recent survey about pelvic floor health found that over half of women (53%) who had experienced symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction did not seek help from a healthcare professional. Of these, 21% said they were too embarrassed. Improving education can help to reduce stigma around symptoms like incontinence and encourage conversations with healthcare professionals.
Similarly, Jo’s Trust reported that cervical screening uptake is falling year on year among 25 to 29-year-olds. Hubs could increase the uptake of cervical screening, both through education and by offering cervical screenings where appropriate.
Access to high-quality women’s
health information is lacking.
Better access to healthcare for each woman
Access to high-quality women’s health information is lacking. Hubs could allow women to increase their understanding of their own bodies and recognise when something is not normal for them.
With its combined range of services, the hub model can deliver better experiences and outcomes in women’s healthcare — reducing the many health barriers women face. It can enable women to be seen in the right setting, by the right professional, at the right time. Each hub will also be tailored to meet the needs of locals, aiming to tackle ongoing health inequalities.
Destigmatising women’s health issues
The hub model is one of the key commitments within the Women’s Health Strategy for England. Its implementation will be a positive step towards improving healthcare for the 51% of the population that has historically been overlooked.
By continuing to raise awareness of common women’s health conditions, we can ensure that support is available to women throughout their lives. We can also help destigmatise conversations about common health issues.